-Environment Art Fundamentals-

There are a number of basic concepts that apply to picture making, and I will introduce them here.

Contrastive relation

A scene in a movie, a location in a game, a picture in any medium all have one thing in common: everything on the screen is in contrast. 
When one asset is placed on the screen and another object is placed, the size, color, and shape of that asset will determine the meaning and relationship of what is on the screen.

In this diagram, you can see that the closer the high and low bars are, the more the difference between each other’s high and low stands out. This is a fundamental part of the art of contrast.
When you have an asset that you want to show height, you can easily express height and size by placing a lower object closer or on top of it as a comparison.

Shape Tendency

If you look around the world, you will find that many things are made up of 0 △ □ shapes and their combinations. Each of these 0 △ □ shapes has its own characteristics

○ is a soft image 

△ is sharp image

□ is an image of stability 

If you compare it to a house, you can see it clearly. A square Hebel house and a house with many triangles and a round roof can give you an impression of the appearance of the house from its shape.
In design, the shapes of ○ △ □ are called primitives and are usually used in combination.

For example, for a battleship that you want to give the impression of an evil empire, use more △ to make it look stronger. On the other hand, a machine that looks weak can be made round.

If you understand the nature of the basic shapes, you will be able to make decisions based on the nature of the basic shapes. For example, you may want to make the corners of a square logo a little rounder to give it a more gentle image, or you may want to prepare a lot of leaning towers and place them in a stable square to express a sense of gravity and strength. We will be able to make decisions based on the nature of the basic shapes.

How to decide on a color

For outdoor backgrounds, it is standard practice to decide on the color of the atmosphere first. Set up a rough scene from morning, daytime, evening, and night, and decide the colors from there.  

Since the atmosphere color will be applied to the entire asset, the colors will be blended so that they overlap with the asset’s unique colors. Therefore, if you don’t decide on the base color before deciding on the colors of other assets, it will be difficult to adjust the colors, so decide on the atmosphere color first.

Basically, when creating assets, you can place HDRIs in the substance painter, but if you don’t place HDRIs as close to the location settings as possible before creating assets, you won’t know how to add color.
If you are having trouble deciding on colors for your original assets, here are some guidelines to help you.
Find a picture with a color you like, and use the color picker to extract only the neutral colors to create a color sample. From there, you can make minor adjustments to create another asset while maintaining the impression of the color.

Use the hue ring to select and place colors that go well together; I find the PCCS hue ring easy to use.

There is so much depth about color that you could complete your life with just the study of it, so if you are interested, search for color science and explore it.

Below is a brief introduction to the approach you can take just by adjusting colors. The details will be dealt with in another article.

  • Color can control size (sense of large and small)
  • Color can control weight (lightness/heaviness)
  • Color can control the size (distance)
  • Color can control hardness (softness)
  • Color can control loudness (loudness-subtlety)

Density and Scale

By adding density, you can control the sense of scale. For large structures, you can show the size of the structure by adding details in the right places. You can do this by crowding in windows, putting in a huge number of small squares, or putting in a lot of lights.

One way to do this is to use emissive maps to create a pointillist effect, as it would take too much time to render a giant space battleship with all the lights in place. (I plan to explain density in detail in another article.


If you understand the effects of shape, color, and scale, and if you observe various things in towns and stores, you will be able to see what kind of effect they have, what kind of contrast exists, and whether or not they are functioning effectively. 

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